Chicago icons Jennifer Hudson, Chance the Rapper and Quincy Jones have teamed up to reopen and revitalize the Ramova Theatre, located in the South Side neighborhood of Bridgeport, after the venue’s nearly 40-year dormancy.
With Hudson, Chance and Jones as co-owners, the Ramova will reopen in fall 2023 as a 1,500-capacity live music venue with a grill, beer garden and brewery in partnership with Other Half Brewing.
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“I believe the cultural divides in our communities will always be bridged and uplifted by music and the arts,” said Jones. “With Ramova, I see a future where the rich cultural heritage of Chicago shines even brighter alongside the country’s most talented artists, which will inspire future generations to come and bring glory to America’s Second City.”
Ramova, which opened in 1929 as Bridgeport’s primary movie theater, shuttered its doors in 1985 after a final screening of “Police Academy 2.” The theatre earned a place on the National Register of Historic Places in 2021, a few years after developer Tyler Nevius became an investor and owner of the venue and sought out to reimagine and reopen it.
Ramova’s reinvigoration is part of a wider investment effort into the South Side of Chicago. According to a press release, “Ramova will also offer educational programs [and] workshops, and amplify community initiatives from local nonprofits.”
“My mother always taught us to take care of home first, so to support the rehabilitation of this extraordinary theater with such a rich history in Chicago means more to me than one could imagine,” Hudson said. “I am honored and thrilled to help build this new home for artists and highlight this special community in new ways that will reach far beyond the neighborhoods we call home.”
Chance the Rapper added, “Chicago will always be part of who I am. I joined the team at Ramova to give back to the city that’s given me so much and to provide a stage to showcase the incredible talent Chicago has to offer. This is our moment to revitalize Chicago neighborhoods through one of the most beautiful ways possible — the arts.”
Along with its mission to “bring top performing acts to Bridgeport,” the venue is also reopening Ramova Grill, which closed in 2012 after 82 years of service, as a 20-seat restaurant attached to the Other Half brewery. Partners Kevin Hickey and Brandon Phillips of The Duck Inn will oversee the culinary and beverage programs of the grill, respectively, with a menu promising snackable and shareable bites, sandwiches, burgers, fries and chili — Ramova Grill’s signature dish. Sarah Loberg will serve as director of food and beverage for the brewery.
Peter Falknor, who has experience as the general manager for Chicago venues The Empty Bottle, Thalia Hall and House of Blues, joins Ramova as director of operations. Kyle LaValley will be the programming and creative director, responsible for booking premier touring acts at the refurbished concert hall. The development is backed by Nevius and his wife, Emily, who will supervise the nonprofit outreach for Ramova.
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